DAT Solutions: March madness tips off

Special to Land Line | Thursday, March 09, 2017

We’ve been saying that as long as spot truckload freight volumes keep rising, rates will follow. Eventually.

Well, the number of loads on DAT MembersEdge soared 17 percent during the week ending March 4, and rates across the board responded with the first week-over-week increase in national averages in more than a month.

With the number of available trucks down 4 percent overall, load-to-truck ratios made double-digit gains:

  • Van ratio: 2.9 loads per truck, up 25 percent
  • Reefer ratio: 5.7, up 30 percent
  • Flatbed ratio: 34.6, up 19 percent

Let’s take a closer look at the trendlines.

Rates bust out: After several weeks of truckload posts up 100 percent year-over-year, rates finally followed demand up:

  • Vans: $1.66/mile, up 4 cents
  • Reefers: $1.88/mile, up 1 cent
  • Flatbeds: $2.02/mile, up 6 cents.

Previously, rates had been depressed because of the volume of trucks that contract carriers were putting on the spot market, particularly in the Southwest and West.

Vans on the rise: The national average van rate made its first week-over-week increase in more than a month. More loads and fewer trucks will do that; van load volume increased 21 percent while truck posts were down 4 percent.

The better half: Prices rose on 56 of the top 100 van lanes last week, led by Memphis ($1.90/mile, up 6 cents) and Atlanta ($1.89/mile up 4 cents). Watch for Chicago and Los Angeles, where big increases in the number of available loads this week could send rates higher.

Reefers warming: After seven straight week-over-week declines, the national average reefer rate picked up a penny. The number of reefer load posts was up 24 percent while the number of trucks posted fell 14 percent. With reefer capacity in short supply, there are good rates to have.

Miami makes waves: In Miami, reefer volumes are surging perhaps because of an early growing season for imports from South America. An uptick in loads and rates out of Miami usually means that the inbound rate goes down. Not the case on Atlanta-Miami, which was up 15 cents to $2.58/mile last week.

Bigger in Texas: A boost of volumes from McAllen made the border town the No. 3 market for reefer load posts on DAT MembersEdge, behind Atlanta and Elizabeth, N.J.

Anything but flat: Demand for flatbed capacity keeps building. Flatbed load posts increased 13 percent while truck posts fell 5 percent last week, which pushed the flatbed load-to-truck ratio (34.6) higher for the fifth week in a row.

Leaning to port: Flatbed rates improved in major markets and especially out of port cities like Los Angeles ($2.24/mile, up 7 cents) and Houston ($2.10/mile up 6 cents).

Flatbed lanes with gains:

  • Baltimore-Springfield, Mass., was up 25 cents to $3.44/mile
  • Houston-Fort Worth paid 12 cents better on average at $2.36/mile
  • Memphis-Dallas was up 39 cents to $2.74/mile, with a nice boost in volumes
  • Atlanta-Nashville climbed 35 cents to $2.58/mile

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit OOIDA’s MyMembersEdge.com load board, tune in to Land Line Now, and join the conversation on Twitter with @LoadBoards.

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